6 Common Myths and Facts About Electric School Buses

The yellow school bus is an American institution – old and trustworthy. Before the pandemic shut them inside their homes, it transported nearly 30 million students to and from school every day. While school buses are indeed among the safest mode of transportation, the harsh truth is that they are not sustainable in the long run, environmentally speaking.

According to a study, Children’s Exposure to Diesel Exhaust on School Buses, kids commuting on diesel-chugging school buses were inhaling five to 15 times more particulates than their peers who did not take the bus. With the climate crisis, ecosystem conservation, and focus on health rightly gaining increased attention, the yellow school bus is due for a much-needed update. The upgraded alternative will manifest as tech-enabled electric school buses.

Currently, out of the 480,000 school buses plying on our roads, only about 1,000 are electricity-driven. This number is only set to rise in the coming years. However, as with any new technology, skepticism is bound to rear its head every now and then. Here, then, is dispelling some of the popular myths and facts about electric school buses.

Myth 1: Electric buses will run out of charge on the school run

Fact: Range anxiety is a common concern with electric vehicles. The fact, however, is that the school bus trips are typically short, with routes usually being under 80 miles. With many electric school bus manufacturers quoting ranges upwards of 120 miles per charge, range anxiety is not an issue with electric school buses. Furthermore, the time taken for recharge has dropped from about 8 hours using typical level 2 chargers to just 3 hours with the upcoming CCS1 chargers. This means that electric school buses can easily be replenished not only overnight but also between longer trips or emergency cases.

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Myth 2: Electric buses do not have enough backing

Fact: The opposite is true. The electric school bus is receiving support from all quarters. The Biden administration has proposed to switch at least 1/5th of the school bus fleet electric in its recent infrastructure proposal. The further impetus comes from the fact that going the greenway will create jobs in the supply chain landscape, besides contributing to the growing EV economy. Combined with financial assistance through grants by the government already available in many states, the electric school bus movement sits well-bolstered.

Myth 3: Electric buses are very expensive

Fact: While it is true that electric buses have higher sticker prices compared to their ICE-driven counterparts, the actual cost of owning the former makes it a more economical option. How? Thanks to grants and subsidies from power companies and state governments. As the demand and production of such vehicles rise, the cost of development will continue to decline. The cost deficit is also offset in the long run by low running costs and in-built smart systems. These IoT and AI-powered systems can enable charge off during peak times when electricity is the cheapest as well as reverse power transfer to feed residual power back into the grid.

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Myth 4: Electric buses are too difficult to maintain

Fact: Electric vehicles are fairly low maintenance. For one, they feature fewer moving parts which mean they do not incur costs related to spark plug replacements, transmission maintenance, engine oil changes, air filter changes, etc. EVs also score high on durability. For instance, the regenerative braking feature in top models substantially reduces the wear and tear of the brake pad, further elongating the vehicle’s life.

Myth 5: Electric buses may be unsafe for our children

Fact: Not only are electric buses built on similar architectures, but they also pass the same safety tests as buses that run on diesel. Furthermore, electric buses feature the same safety accouterments as regular buses and benefit from greater potential for onboard digitization via SaaS platforms such as SafeBus. Such services, existing at the crossroads of AI, IoT, machine learning, cloud computing, and analytics facilitate a safer, securer, and more time-efficient transit experience for American school-goers. These platforms enable automated route planning and optimization, live tracking, real-time data aggregation, notification dispatch, and ETA updates, and checklist generation and maintenance. The student application also empowers users to raise alerts in case of misdemeanor, unsafe driving, or COVID-19 safety protocol violation, allowing transport officials and school admins to make real-time interventions.

Click here to know Why digitized fleet management is the need of the hour?

Myth 6: Electric bus infrastructure is too limited

Fact: Electric buses are built on similar chassis structures as traditional coaches such that diesel buses can be electrified retroactively. The infrastructure is highly scalable, as is the construction of the buses that can be modified to suit a range of requirements. The modular architecture means that the same basic chassis design can be used to serve as a school bus, a truck, construction vehicle, etc. Such practices are bound to enable the production of a greater number of electric platforms while driving usage and financial benefits.

Electric school buses are poised to gain greater acceptance as a more economical and eco-friendlier alternative to fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the post-pandemic world. The adoption of EV fleets will be catalyzed by administrative and local support – and current, as well as emerging trends, point towards the speedy realization of this scenario.

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